Rural Reads Review

Common_groundThis October we read Common Ground by Rob Cowen; it was different from our usual rural reads and offered a fresh perspective. Common Ground  is a fusion of biopic and nature writing, expertly woven together to take the reader through a piece of land that we all have experience and knowledge of; those edge lands just outside your village, town or city.

With a move to a new town in Yorkshire, his employment in jeopardy and a baby on the way, Cowen finds solace in the outskirts of the town. This is a half-forgotten place where nature breathes, survives and thrives.  Cowen takes the reader to this outer remit and casts a light. Each chapter is themed around an inhabitant of this environment, which we as a group really enjoyed and thought worked well.

Whether the chapter was discussing the hare, kestrel or owl, they were interwoven with biographical elements or (what we assumed) fictional stories that resonate with the land. I personally enjoyed the chapter about the owl, interweaving the owl’s masterful hearing with the first ultra sound of his unborn baby.

Cowen’s writing is often beautiful, his descriptions of kestrels had me moving with them. Even if you aren’t very knowledgeable about owls, hares or kestrels, Cowen’s evocative writing richly brings them alive and provides you with snippets of information.

As a group we thoroughly enjoyed Common Ground.  Many of the readers found it a perfect bedtime read. It has spurred us on to read similar books in the future, but to also think about our own relationship with our ‘common ground’.

Reading Common Ground has encouraged me to walk out of Reading and into the ‘no man’s land’ that is tucked between the M4 and the town. I’ve walked through meadows I had no idea existed, I’ve come across wildlife that I wouldn’t expect to see. I also realised how unused and at times unkempt the perimeter is; but for the wildlife this is a blessing, allowing wildflowers and fungi to thrive, alongside insects, mammals and fish.

For our next meeting on Thursday 26th November we’re reading The Lantern by Deborah Lawrenson.

Rural Reads reviews: The Bees by Laline Paull

the beesRob Davies reviews our latest rural read.

This September we read The Bees by Laline Paull. The Bees is set within a bee hive and tells the story of Flora 717 a sanitation bee who rises up through the ranks. The Bees has many tropes of a classic dystopian novel: totalitarian regime, secret police, oppression and that one individual who stands out against the state.

Paull has evidently done extensive research into bees and hive workings. For many of us, bees are the lovely bumble bees that hop from one flower to the next during summer. Paull breaks that perception and reveals the inner working of hives, along with the various bees that all play an essential role. The group particularly enjoyed this aspect of the book and we feel we have all learnt something new about bees. Learning something new about wildlife or farming is a common occurrence with the books we read!

The story line was rather straight forward, set at an easy pace, but seemed to meander off course at periods. I personally felt it was rather predictable with no surprises along the way. We thought it was interesting that the bees were very much aware of the world and other species, including humans. However, we felt there were levels of confusion between the bees and their understanding of the outside world. Paull had created a folklore for their world, intersected with humans and our understanding of reality, but at times it became confused.

The protagonist Flora 717 was an interesting character, we were all amazed how she managed to survive through such hardship. Flora 717 is a sanitation bee, she is not supposed to be able to speak and is treated as a slave by the rest of the hive. Flora 717 however develops speech, free thought and has an inner will which drives her through so many disasters which would surely destroy a weaker bee.

Overall the group really enjoyed the book, finding it an easy read with many interesting points and found the bee facts fascinating. Paull managed to intermingle the complex and diverse world of bees with a dystopian story.

October’s read is Common Ground by Rob Cowen. Visit the Rural Reads plus web page for more details.

Rural Reads review: Far from the Madding Crowd

As the Rural Reads Plus book group is now taking inspiration from the University of Reading’s Special Collections as well as the Museum of English Rural Life, our recent reviews have been published on the Special Collections blog, but this one takes us back to our roots…! Rob Davies, Volunteer Coordinator, is clearly a fan!


fftmcTo celebrate Spring and to coincide with the new film adaption starring Carey Mulligan, the group read the quintessential ‘rural read’ – Thomas Hardy’s Far from the Madding Crowd. To quote myself at book group, ‘Why has it taken us over four years to read this book?!’ Far from the Madding Crowd embodies the Museum of English Rural Life, and there are so many elements of the novel that correlate with our collections. Within the first few pages there is a mention of a spring wagon and countless other objects we hold within our collections.

Far from the Madding Crowd tells the story of Bathsheba, a young woman who inherits her uncle’s farm and decides to run it herself. While running the farm, Bathsheba becomes the target of three potential suitors: the wholesome Shepherd Gabriel Oak, the lonely and wealthy Mr Boldwood and the handsome but dastardly cad Sergeant Troy. It is this narrative that drives the story, which is filled out with events on the farm.

Hardy provides the reader with an accurate and vivid portrayal of living in the countryside in the nineteenth century. The various roles and the ways in which work revolved around the seasons are colourfully revealed with sequences that involve everything from thwacking the corn through to sheep dipping. Gabriel’s role as a shepherd caring for his flock is expertly told; Hardy uses the romantic vision of the lonely shepherd to add to Oak’s character but also delves into the technicalities and realities of shepherding.

Much of the group’s discussion focused on the personalities of Bathsheba’s three love interests. We furiously debated Captain Troy’s return and whether he was attempting to repent for his past actions that had resulted in Fanny’s death. A few members of the group believed he was a reformed character where others were not so convinced and still believed him a shallow cad.

A sense of community encircles the novel, a tight knit rural community where everyone has their role and gossip is always rife. As a group we really liked the ‘yokel’ characters that populated the book; Hardy used them to provide that sense of community.

Overall the group enjoyed the book; I personally loved it and I think that every member of staff here at MERL should read this book (we are making inroads!). For month of May we’re reading The Dig by John Preston. Join us!

‘Rural reads plus’ review: The Unicorn by Iris Murdoch

Written by Rob Davies, Volunteer Co-ordinator

SC booksLast month we read The Unicorn by Iris Murdoch; this was the first book we’ve read since the group became ‘Rural Reads plus…’ and we expanded our remit to include books inspired by the University’s Special Collections. The Unicorn was a perfect read to bridge both rural reads and books from the Special Collections, as it is set in the countryside, and it has added a whole new dimension to our reading.

The Unicorn tells the story of Marian who takes the post of Governess at Gaze Castle, which is located in a remote rural area of the country. Marian finds herself wrapped in a labyrinth of mysteries and lies circulating around the lady of the house, Hannah who she believes is being kept prisoner by her estranged husband.

The book can be considered gothic; it is full of gothic tropes such as: mystery, a remote house, a strange ethereal character and someone from the ‘outside’ world entering this strange reality. It is also about spirituality which the character Hannah embodies in her irrational behaviour and the way the other characters think about her. Hannah becomes a canvas for everyone, a model for everyone to project their desires upon.

We had a very lively discussion about the book; some of us thoroughly enjoyed it and are now inspired to read more Iris Murdoch, where others didn’t like it so much. For some members of the group the characters grated on them; the character of Effingham caused a stir amongst the group and he was berated a fair amount. I personally enjoyed the entire book and was gripped all the way through. I think the subtle and vague approach to the major themes was clever.

We compared certain aspects of The Unicorn to Rebecca by Daphne De Maurier, a book the group read last year. In particular the remote countryside which is a metaphor for the isolation and imprisonment for the inhabitants of both Gaze Castle and Manderly. The book as a whole has so many different influences, from Austen to Mervyn Peake’s Gormenghast.

Those who didn’t manage to finish the book decided to continue reading it, after listening to our conversation. I would recommend The Unicorn but I’m not sure if every member of our book group would! For the month of November we’re reading The Beetle by Richard Marsh.




Rural Reads review #8: ‘Clay’ by Melissa Harrison

Rob Davies reviews the latest rural read.

clayFor the September meeting, we read Clay by debut author Melissa Harrison. Clay is an unusual novel for Rural Reads because it is set firmly in a city; it is, however, about how people within an urban environment interact with the green spaces available to them. This is a theme we as a group find particularly fascinating, partly because of where we all live, but also because of MERL’s urban location in Reading.

Clay is driven by a loose plot about a group of people who in some way or form have a relationship with a green common within a housing estate. The characters all have varying degrees of interaction and relationships with one another; each of them is missing something from their lives and all are craving friendship and companionship. These characters include a young boy from a disrupted home, an elderly widow, her daughter and her granddaughter, and an Eastern European immigrant who lost his farm and now works in England. Each of these characters has a relationship with the Common, which for each of them is variably a place of peace, adventure, memory and intrigue.
Yet it wasn’t so much the plot that captured our attention as the wonderful nature writing with which Harrison filled the pages.

“Over by the oaks the elegant, sandy feathers of tall oat grass floated above the finer, reddish inflorescence of the common bent below, like the two lengths of pelt on a cat.”

Harrison interweaves the main plot with these beautiful descriptions that add a whole new depth to the novel; this is what really captured our imaginations and also why we consider Clay to be a ‘rural read’!

My first question to the group was “did you enjoy Clay?” and I was answered with a unanimous yes. We all enjoyed the book as a whole, and it was a light read that we were easily absorbed by. We all really enjoyed the way Melissa Harrison wrote about nature, and I would recommend reading her blog Tales of the City where she writes about the diversity of nature found in urban environments.

The new home of our bookclub

The new home of our bookclub

For October 30th we’re reading Unicorn by Iris Murdoch, which marks a change in our reading remit. When the Museum closes at the end of October for work on the Our Country Lives redevelopment to take place, Rural Reads will move to the beautiful Staircase Hall in the Victorian part of our building. Our remit will expand to encompass the varied and vast Special Collections held by the University of Reading. Alongside books themed around the countryside, we will be taking inspiration from the libraries and archives. The depth of these collections means we’re all very excited about where this new reading adventure will lead!



4 years of Rural Reads

Our July meeting marked the fourth anniversary of the Rural Reads book club.  For four years we have been reading books with a rural theme or setting that have spanned countries and historic periods, covering farming practices, rural lives and countryside themes. The rural theme has not been at all restrictive and the books we have read have been incredibly varied, always provoking different reactions.  In this post some of the members share their personal highlights from the past four years.

germinal1Robert Davies, Volunteer Coordinator: For me there are three books that stand out. The first book I read at book group was Germinal by Emile Zola. I am an avid reader and fan of Zola so this book was already a winner for me. I like Germinal because of vivid scenes of the mining countryside in the North of France, the one scene I always remember is the lowering of a horse into the mine shaft. This book is about the poverty of the working class, the violence and unpredictability of a starving mob and how political ideals such as Marxism were infiltrating the working class.

The second book I thoroughly enjoyed was Lorna Doone by R.D.Blackmore. For me Lorna Doone epitomized the rural novel; the descriptions of looking after and caring for livestock were endearing and it goes into depth about using the tools we have on display at MERL. Lorna Doone is also a sweeping romantic novel, with duels, fights and passion.

My third and final choice is very different  –  The Dirty Life: A story of Farming and Falling in Love by Kristan Kimball. When I received this book through the post I thought “I am not going to enjoy this”; within ten pages I was gripped and finished the book within 24 hours. It’s an autobiographical account of a journalist who falls in love with a farmer and they make a new life together. It’s a book that I have since bought as a gift for many people and would recommend to many more.


Harvest-186x300Adam, Project Officer at MERL and member of Rural Reads: “My favourite part of Rural Reads is how so many of our books give a context and setting for the objects here at MERL. Reading about the tools, equipment and everyday objects being used in a living landscape full of characters and communities brings out the significance and depth of the collection in a more entertaining way than many of our object records (good as they are!). To this end, I’ve really enjoyed Harvest by Jim Crace, which explored the impact of enclosure on a superstitious rural community, and Lorna Doone by R.D. Blackmore, which managed to be both realist in its presentation of living in Dartmoor but also Disney-esque in its romantic plotline.”


Dr Jeremy Burchardt, Associate Professor in History, University of Reading: ‘Rural Reads is a great addition to the cultural scene in Reading.  I’ve really enjoyed the discussions I’ve been along to and it has introduced me to a number of books and authors I might not have come across otherwise.  Happy Birthday Rural Reads and long may you continue to flourish!’


rural ridesJanice Woodings, volunteer and member of Rural Reads: “I have very much enjoyed the book club during the couple of years I’ve been coming along. It has introduced me to books I wouldn’t have known about or read otherwise – and I’ve enjoyed/appreciated most of the titles. As our discussions show, there’s rarely (if ever) perfection in writing and literature. Great bonus when – for Miss Read and Graham Swift titles, for example – relevant objects and writings from the museum and special collections were made available for us to look at, adding to the appreciation of the topics, author’s life, etc. It’s a good discipline for me to know I should aim to finish a book for our discussion – just 4 weeks away. Too often – though I love books and reading – when I’m left to my own devices – I just find the solitary side means I take far too long to finish a book these days. That spoils the enjoyment. It’s always good to have company – even fleetingly. I love the atmosphere and setting – in the museum or garden – for discussions. And always appreciate the tea/biscuits/cake to accompany the chat! As with volunteering in the University’s Special collections, I’ve met plenty of lovely people. So I now know lots more people I wouldn’t have met otherwise…

I joined the book club because I had just read Germinal and a friend said the MERL group were about to discuss it. It remains my favourite of MERL choices. William Cobbett’s Rural Rides aroused my curiosity and led to discovering more about him and his life here and in America. His life seemed to relate to another book, I was reading at the time, ‘Parrot and Olivier in America’ and I enjoyed both his book and finding out more about him.


wildwoodJudith Moon, Visitor Services Assistant: Over the past 4 years of Rural Reads, there are two books which stand out in my memory – for very different reasons! I think my all-time favourite title would have to be Wildwood  by  Roger Deakin –  an English writer, documentary-maker and environmentalist, co-founder and trustee of Common Ground. I have enthused with anyone who’ll listen about  Deakin’s ability to weave so much of art,  history, literature and poetry into the story of the different varieties of woodland tree, not to mention his infectious enthusiasm for sleeping in woodlands – without the benefit of a tent – which I promised myself I would try at some point in my life!

At the other end of my Rural Reads spectrum would have to be Germinal  by Emile Zola – a book I really couldn’t finish because of its unrelenting grimness, not helped because we read it in February! However, as you’ve seen above, it was one of Rob Davies favourite books!

And finally, from an anonymous member: “I enjoy our very interesting discussions – different perspectives on different ‘reads’ (whether I have liked the book or not), sometimes leading us into uncharted territory on linked subject matter!”

As you can see, we’ve read a huges range of books and had so many fascinating discussions. You can read reviews of recent reads on this blog, and find a complete list of the books we’ve read on the Rural Reads web page.

a month in the countryNew members are always welcome – you don’t have to finish or even read the book to come along and join in the discussion. The group chooses the next book at each meeting, and suggestions are welcome from everyone.

From the Autumn, in anticipation of the closure of the Museum this Autumn for the Our Country Lives redevelopment, we’re going to be reading books (as well as rural ones) inspired by the Special Collections, and moving our meetings into the atmospheric setting of the stunning staircase hall.

The book to read for this month, however, maintains the rural theme. Rather fittingly, we’re reading A Month in the Country by J. L. Carr, a book we first read four years ago in August 2010! Come and join us on August 28th at 5.30pm.


Rural Reads review #7: Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

Written by Rob Davies, Volunteer Coordinator.


Jane Austen

For the warm, sun-filled month of June we read Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen, a quintessentially English book and author. We decided to read it because we realised that in the four years of our book group we had not read a single Jane Austen novel, so we thought it was time to rectify it with Northanger Abbey.

The novel focuses on the character Catherine Morland, who has an overactive imagination. Catherine is taken to Bath for the season by the friendly Allen’s, where she meets the Tilney’s and is subsequently taken to their estate at Northanger Abbey. It is of course a romance and Catherine is eventually swept off her feet by the dashing Mr Tilney.

A majority of the novel is set in Bath, and personally I believe it is the better half of the book. Austen vividly recreates Bath for the reader, with its lavish balls, gossip and excitement. One of my favourite chapters is when Catherine and Mrs Allen cannot find anywhere to sit, and when they finally do find somewhere they then cannot get any service and do not know anyone else at the party, which makes them both feel very uncomfortable. The book group felt this is a prime example of how Austen’s writing is still relevant for today’s audience, particularly regarding social awkwardness and the desperation to be part of the bigger party.

Catherine and Mr Tilney in the BBC adaptation.

Catherine and Mr Tilney in the BBC adaptation.

One of themes of the book is reading itself; the rise of the novel as a pastime is shown in how Catherine refers and makes connections to The Mysteries of Udolphoa book she is reading. One of our members remembers reading it at University, and she says that although the book isn’t what we would imagine to be gothic nowadays, it caused a sensation when first published. Catherine’s enjoyment of reading novels is an insight into social history of the period, as the reading of novels was a growing popular pastime  amongst middle and upper class ladies. Throughout the novel Catherine allows her imagination to run wild, applying gothic novel themes to real life which, as you can expect, gets her into trouble.

As a whole we enjoyed Northanger Abbey, we had a lively conversation about the book and agreed it was nice to finally read an Austen. For July we are reading Patrick Leigh-Fermor’s A Time of Gifts and we are meeting on Thursday 24th July at 5.30.

Rural Reads review #6: Harvest by Jim Crace

by Rob Davies, Volunteer Coordinator and Rural Reads regular.

Harvest-186x300In April, members of Rural Reads read Harvest by Jim Crace –  you can already guess the rural connection. Harvest was shortlisted for the Booker Prize 2013 and had rave reviews, the quotes on the back of the book give it high praise. “One of his unquestionable masterpieces” states Phillip Hensher from the Spectator. At the beginning of the discussion I asked the group as a whole if they agreed with these positive reviews and everyone did!

Harvest tells the story of a small rural community during an undisclosed period. We debated over which time period and some of us believed it could be the mid-nineteenth century whereas others thought it could be late medieval. This absence of an exact time lends the author flexibility in his authenticity but also provides the story with a narrow vision, as the reader is unable to identify the wider context.

The narrator Walter Thicket, tells the story of how a village is unravelled within a week, exploring the whimsical natures of humans, how deceit and rumour can lead to betrayal and questions whether anyone can ever really trust anyone else?

From a ‘Rural Reads’ point of view this novel is perfect, the story begins at the end of harvest and goes through to the winter threshing. The narrator guides us through the rural customs of crowning a harvest queen, the celebrations of successfully completing a harvest, right through to the methods of threshing grain. I personally felt that the author was successful in conjuring life in a rural village, and portraying how the weather, beast and man were all connected.

The novel does hold darker themes than that of rural life; it works on the small community mentality and the author picks upon the weakest and most dangerous of his character’s emotions to play with. The group thought it was very much a gripping page turner, but were frustrated as they wanted to find out what happened next!

For May we’re reading one of my favourites, Rebecca by Daphne De Maurier. Join us for the next Rural Reads on May 29th at 5.30pm.

Rural Reads review #5: The Last Runaway by Tracy Chevalier

Written by Adam Koszary, Project Officer.

We had to take February off for Rural Reads this year, which allowed us plenty of time to stew on our latest book: The Last Runaway. Its author, Tracy Chevalier, is probably better known for her other historical novel Girl with a Pearl Earring, since adapted into a movie.

the-last-runaway-pbSet in the 1850s, The Last Runaway is told from the perspective of young Quaker woman called Honor Bright, who sails with her sister for a new life in Ohio. Billed as a historical novel, the domestic detail and life on a Quaker farm certainly shine through, but we felt the book could have dwelt more on establishing a sense of place, as well as being more adventurous in exploring the issue of slavery at a pivotal point in American history.

After travelling to the United States, it turns out that life in Ohio is far less rosy and significantly less stable than life in the sleepy coastal town Honor and her sister hark from. America is presented as brash, practical and selfish. This is in comparison to the close-knit Quaker communities of England, comfortable with their bedrock of history, tradition and mild climate.

After a tragic turn of events, Honor finds herself having to rely on the kindness of strangers in this strange new land. Already homesick, Honor spends most of the novel in culture shock. She despises both the heat and the snow, the mud, the dust, the architecture and the people of Ohio. The characters are also stereotypically American: strong-willed, independent and outspoken, they strike a sharp contrast to our demure protagonist, whose highest virtue is silence. Eventually, however, she finds her niche in society, first working for a fiery old haberdasher with a slave-catcher for a brother and then, after a tumble in the hay, settling down with a husband on his family’s farm.

Slavery, however, is the only thing which Honor cannot bring herself to normalise, and so she joins the Underground Railroad. The Ohioan Quakers, although opposed to slavery in principle, take a passive resistance to it because of threatened prosecution and violence. Honor, who risks relations with her new family, the law and much else besides, nevertheless helps the slaves that pass through her land.

A view of 1805s Ohio

A view of 1805s Ohio

Although slavery is an underlying theme of the book, we felt it is not explored to any great depth. Slaves are often unseen, taking food left out in the night or hiding in the haberdasher’s shed, and only one or two runaway slaves have a voice in the book. Instead, the overwhelming focus is Honor’s reaction to slavery and how it clashes with her moral framework. Indeed, the group generally agreed that this is a book more about Quakers than it is about slavery. For instance, Chevalier is obviously comfortable and knowledgeable discussing practices such as quilting, sewing, farming, and the meditative nature of Quaker gatherings than about the lived experience of slaves. Personally, I feel that Chevalier struggled to hang an exciting narrative on the monotony of a Quaker woman’s life in 1850s Ohio. She is best when contrasting this monotony with Honor’s intense, internal monologues exploring love, fear and the ethical tug-of-war between her own morals and that of her community and religion.

In conclusion, the group was somewhat divided. This is by no means a bad book, but neither is it an excellent one. It is simply an easy read or, as one of us put it: ‘a good book to read on a sick day.’

Next month’s book is Jim Crace’s Harvest, nominated for the Man Booker Prize 2013. We are meeting at 17:30 in the Museum on April 24th.


Rural Reads Review #4 – Lorna Doone by R.D.Blackmore

Written by Rob Davies, Volunteer Co-Ordinator

For the dark winter months of December and January the MERL Book Group ‘Rural Reads’ read Lorna Doone: A Romance of Exmoor by R.D. Blackmore. Lorna Doone is the perfect ‘rural read’, as living and working in the countryside is intrinsic to the story and is integral to the characters’ essence.

lorna-doone2Written in 1869, Lorna Doone takes place in 1685 and is set in the South West of England (more specifically in Devonshire and Somerset), meaning walkers and enthusiasts can now walk along the notorious Doone valley depicted in the book. It is narrated by the protagonist, John Ridd, and he takes the reader through his story of life during a tumultuous period, including fear of outlaws, farming, civil war and, ultimately, the love shared between himself and Lorna Doone.

John Ridd is a respected farmer and family man who, after the death of his father to Doone outlaws, becomes the master of the farm. After accidentally stumbling into the valley as a young teenager, John and Lorna fall deeply in love, although admittedly it is John who initially falls head over heels. Their love, however, is obstructed by the Doones, the outlaws who terrorise the South West and who cling onto Lorna so that she can become their future queen. The devious Carver Doone, who is the most brutal and deadly of the Doones, has set his eyes and ambitions on Lorna and wishes to marry her, and the story unfolds from here with adventure and passion.

As I mentioned earlier, I believe Lorna Doone to be a most fitting book for Rural Reads and also for MERL because there are countless moments in the book when John discusses or uses an object that we have in our collection. For example, there is the settle which Lorna falls asleep on, a coracle for fishing and even butter pats. Visitors can see all these objects on display in the museum (or on our online catalogue).

Much of Lorna Doone is set in real locations, such as Malmstead in Exmoor.

Much of Lorna Doone is set in real locations, such as Malmstead in Exmoor.

An endearing quality of John Ridd is his love for his family and his animals, and throughout the book you find him saving sheep from thick blankets of snow or caring for his horses as he writes “I loved some horses, and even some cows for that matter.” The importance and love of animals is a common theme throughout the book – one of my favourite chapters is when highwayman Tom Faggus’s horse Winnie leads John to the wounded body of her master. As a group we all particularly enjoyed this particular characteristic of John.

However, we weren’t taken with the character of Lorna Doone, as we found her rather pale compared to other characters and I personally imagined her to be frail with almost translucent skin, lacking in passion. We discussed that Lorna’s character – as described through the eyes of John – was his perfect imagining of a woman. However, she didn’t quite meet our expectations.

The Parish Church of Oare, the real-life location of one of the books very dramatic events..

The Parish Church of Oare, the real-life location of one of the books very dramatic events..

Folklore runs through the core of the novel along with pagan beliefs that people in rural communities held and believed. The oral tradition of storytelling and spreading news is used; Tom the highwayman, for instance, regales the Ridd family with fantastical tales of his adventures and of the wider world which they blindly consume. The theme of folklore and tradition also reminds me of the corn dollies we have in our collection and the folklore which surrounds them.

As a whole we enjoyed Lorna Doone even if some of us didn’t finish it, but we all had aspects of the book that we enjoyed and wanted to share. I would personally recommend the book to everyone because it has romance, war, tragedy, friendship, betrayal and some very witty anecdotes about sheep – what more could you want?


Next month we are reading The Last Runaway by Tracy Chevalier, we are meeting on Thursday 27th February at 5.30pm at MERL and we hope to see you there.